Posts Tagged ‘president’

Guilty! What Does it Mean, America?

Friday, May 31st, 2024

By Bob Gaydos
8893E6E3-E362-47C2-84E8-31C1791D89B4 America now has a convicted felon former president, 34 times … and still counting. I don’t know whether to be saddened or proud. I guess a bit of both.

    If, as some say, life is all a matter of how you look at it, then some people I know would say the Donald Trump era has been a disaster, a dark stain in the history of America. And it has.

    But others might say Trump has also given America another freaking growth opportunity. If you’re a fan of the AFGO philosophy, it’s easy to see that some people have failed to grasp the opportunity. They are called Republicans.

      Trump’s conviction in a Manhattan court was a tacky story of marital infidelity, lying, cheating and phony business records. Amoral from beginning to end, all to please one person. In other words, typical Trump.

       The fact that this man was once president of the United States made it an embarrassing spectacle, with Trump spreading lies outside the courtroom after each session in the court and the judge sealing the names of the jurors to protect them from threats by Trump supporters. 

      At the same time, the fact that 12 ordinary citizens of New York City found the ex-president guilty of illegally trying to influence the 2016 election was a vote of confidence for the country and the Constitution. No man is above the law.

      Thus, I am conflicted. There’s a lot more legal activity to come before several courts, including the supreme one, and I guess we’ll just have to wait to see how it all works out. So far, so good.

      But with leading Republican officials routinely siding with Trump, criticizing the trial, spreading his lies and ignoring his basic lack of character and morals, there’s no doubt about what the Trump era has meant to a once proud political party: A total loss of moral fiber and, really, no apparent sense of shame, all in a desire for power and its rewards. Faust without the music.

    Any sense of dignity has been lost with the party’s nearly totally blind obeisance to Trump. Abe, Teddy, Ike and probably even Reagan would be aghast at the lack of self-respect many members of this party have for themselves as well as their lack of any sense of obligation to the oaths they took to serve this country.

       There has been virtual silence (which I have noted many times) among elected Republican officials at the national, state and local levels for eight years, regardless of the recklessness of Trump’s words and actions. Talk about hush money. Talk about cowardice.

       So, while the Manhattan trial was a step in the right direction, the jury is still out on the eventual effect of the Trump era on the country. Actually, several juries, which have yet to be selected. But there is hope.

        Not so for this Republican Party. This growth opportunity has been squandered. Which, I guess, leaves a wonderful growth opportunity for new individuals with a sense of morals and dignity and dedication to country to create a new kind of political party.

     That’s the thing with AFGO. You can’t escape it.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

        

       

       

    

When Ambition Trumps Trust

Friday, May 24th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Nikki Haley … changing her vote

Nikki Haley … changing her vote

    A while back I wrote a column that focused on three basic rules to live by:

— If it’s not true, don’t say it.

— If it’s not yours, don’t take it.

— If it’s not right, don’t do it.

    The impetus for the column was the obvious fact that The Leader of the Republican Party and many of his followers had never heard of such rules and, in any event, felt no obligation to live by them.

      That situation hasn’t changed. But I have come up with yet another one of what I feel should be a basic rule of life: Be true to your word. The impetus, again, is questionable behavior by Republicans, one a politician, one a judge.

        I realize that trusting the words of a politician is a fool’s choice, but Nikki Haley has managed to lower the bar even further for acceptable if smarmy hypocrisy with her pronouncement that she will vote for Donald Trump for president.

      Haley waged an aggressive primary campaign against Trump for their party’s presidential nomination and, while not succeeding, had respectable results. She found there are indeed some Republicans who are not happy with Trump.

     Among the arguments she made for voting for her and not Trump: “Of course, many of the same politicians who now publicly embrace Trump privately dread him. They know what a disaster he’s been and will continue to be for our party. They’re just too afraid to say it out loud.”

    She accused Trump of being “confused,” “unhinged,” “not qualified” and “too old” to be president.

      So OK, even with her past history of flip-flops (serving as Trump’s UN ambassador and then resigning after two years; saying she would not run against him for president and then running against him for president), those are pretty strong and accurate comments she made about Trump. So why does she now say she is voting for him?

        Ambition. Political ambition, pure and simple. She can vote for whomever she wants in private, but in public she still wants some of Trump’s followers in the party to remember her four years from now when she’ll want to run for president again. 

      She’s willing to sacrifice any personal integrity she might have to preserve that hope for the future, even though she knows full well that a Trump second term in office could change the country’s political landscape drastically.

     (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who also challenged Trump unsuccessfully in the primaries, is hedging a similar bet. He tried to out- Trump Trump in the primaries, but learned that no one could do that. Now, DeSantis is raising money for Trump and waiting for 2028.)

      The other culprit in this tale of untrustworthiness is Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, he of the, not one, but two flags flying in support of Trump’s “stop the steal” campaign to undo the results of the 2020 election.

        One of the few things Americans learn in school about government and the law is that judges, especially when they are called “justices,” are supposed to be unbiased arbiters in matters that come before them in court. No sign of even a possible conflict of interest is allowed, so there is no doubt about the hearing or the ruling.

      Alito, although he probably swore to such things when he became a judge, apparently never grasped that not taking sides concept.

Samuel Alito

Samuel Alito

    After it was revealed that an American flag flew in distress position at his home, in support of the “stop the steal” campaign, Alito blamed his wife for the incident. Now, photos of a different flag signifying the same support and flying at his vacation home, have been uncovered. No word on whom he’s blaming this time.

    Of course, Alito has only himself to blame. With cases involving Trump and the 2020 election coming before the court, he has refused to recuse himself from them. This is a blatant violation of what most judges believe is their ethical duty, whether written into any code of ethics or not. 

   This Supreme Court, with its casual code of conduct to “guide” members, apparently feels they are special enough to recognize what behavior is ethical and proper for them. Clearly, some of them are not.

     People need to have confidence in the impartiality of their judges. If you are a judge and are involved in a case, or could appear to be involved (say, because your wife likes one side), you have a moral obligation to remove yourself from the case no matter what any code says. You also should have the common sense not to publicly display any statement that shows support for one side. This is basic stuff.

      Like Haley, Alito, who has also taken unreported gifts, appears to be driven by an ambitious desire to change the political landscape of the country. He’ll apparently swear to anything as long as he’s got his robe and lifetime appointment to protect him.

       Another basic life lesson: Trust must be earned and protected by regular investments. Haley and Alito are bankrupt in this regard.

rjgaydos@gmail





Just Another Day in America

Thursday, April 18th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

78BD258A-80FB-4BFD-BC7B-E0E8E239379D    A quick snapshot of a recent day in America:

    A former president of the United States was on trial in a New York City courtroom in a story that could’ve been written by the National Enquirer. Well, actually, it was supposed to be, but then the Enquirer killed the story and that’s all part of what the trial is about.

    Donald Trump, the defendant, brooded, slept, glared, argued with his lawyers and pretty much showed he didn’t want to be where he was, sitting at the accused’s table in court. The judge kept warning him not to misbehave, but somehow still resisted locking Trump’s butt up for being a constant threat to the community with his comments on social media and elsewhere, an action that would prove to the rest of us that the law is truly applied equally to everyone. No matter. That day has to come.

   And despite Trump’s call to arms that “all hell will break loose” on Monday when his trial started, the only menacing site outside the courthouse was a group of college Young Republicans trying to figure out what the heck they were doing there. Not very menacing.

    Anyway, the trial is all about hush money paid to porn stars to keep them from going public with their stories, and hurting Trump’s chances of being elected president in 2016. Mostly, a lot of lying about what money was used for what purpose and one of the key witnesses against Trump is his old lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who served a term in the federal prison just down the road from me for lying about all that money a few years ago.

   Anyway, it’s sleazy and salacious and I’m embarrassed as an American that this man once sat in the Oval Office and apparently a lot of Americans still think he should be given another shot at the job he totally botched. They keep showing up in these polls that are supposedly fair and scientific, but for which I have never been contacted in my entire life.

    Oh yeah, he’s the first American president ever to face criminal charges after leaving office. Well, that’s something he can lay claim to without having to lie about it.

     On the same day, NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned some player I never heard of from ever playing in the league for committing “a cardinal sin” of betting on the league’s games and sharing information on his own play, removing himself from games pretending to be injured, and controlling betting on his own play. The player actually played in Toronto, which is not in America, but the rest of the league is.

    Sports betting may yet be the downfall of the major sports leagues, but there seems to be no limit to it. The Los Angeles Dodgers only recently escaped major disaster as star Shohei Ohtani‘s former translator took the fall for stealing money from the ball player to cover millions of dollars in gambling losses. No baseball. The FBI says Ohtani didn’t know about it. Well, OK. Perhaps he’s taking English lessons now.

    On this particular day, I looked to see what the great grey lady, the New York Times, had to say about the Trump trial. Its editorial went into great detail, carefully explaining all the nuances of the justice system and why everything was being done the way it was being done, etc. It was not until the end of what the paper itself described as “a seven -minute read,” that the editorial referred to Trump’s “disregard for the rule of law and his willingness to demean American justice when it suits his interests.”

   It continued, “Those actions render him manifestly unfit for office and would pose unique dangers to the United States during a second term. The greatest of those dangers, and the one that Americans should be most attuned to, is the damage that a second Trump presidency would inflict on the rule of law.”

      Well, no you-know-what Sherlock. Did no one at the Times ever explain to the editorial writer that “don’t bury the lead“ applies to editorials as well as news stories. Seven minutes to tell people don’t ever put this lunatic in office again? He’s too dangerous?! “Manifestly unfit!”

    Give me a break! Tell them at the top, tell them why and tell them again at the bottom. Tell them every damn day while you’ve still got a press! Geez, people, this is no time to be gentle.

      A friend of mine recently asked how I felt about the direction this country was heading. Well, the first four presidents of my lifetime were Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

    Maybe it was a trick question.


rjgaydos@gmal.com

‘Old Joe’ Tells It Like It Is

Saturday, March 9th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

President Biden is applauded by his back bench, Vice President Kamala Harris.

President Biden is applauded by his back bench, Vice President Kamala Harris. RJ Photography Photo Illustration

   Speaking, if I may, for the legions of octogenarians who have had it up to our cataract-surgery-repaired eyes with all the nonsense that Joe Biden is too old to be president, thank you, Mr. President, for that wonderfully direct and forceful takedown of Mr. MAGA and all the little MAGATTS in Congress the other night. The State of the Union will be just fine in your hands.

     And that’s really the point, people. Not how old Biden is, but how capable and competent he is compared to the other guy, “my predecessor” as Biden cleverly put it.

     Heck, Donald Trump himself is a sloppy, flabby, slow-moving, memory-challenged 77-year-old, who looks like even making 80 would be an upset. And he doesn’t know or care one whit about what it means to be the leader of the free world, the spokesperson for democracy and champion of liberty. 

    Biden knows. He’s lived it. He understands it. He can articulate it. Maybe the words come out a little softer and slower, although the other night there was no problem hearing the message or noticing that Biden was in total control of the event, to the ultimate frustration of the juveniles in the Republican section who had nothing to offer but shouts and eventual surrender.

    Yup, Joe, Mr. President, you demonstrated that age and experience and wisdom and caring and compassion and a sense of duty and moral purpose can all coexist in the same somewhat worn but still functioning body. And mind. 

       And you demonstrated that passion and perhaps some anger can still be expressed by a uniquely experienced gentleman who’s tired of being told he’s too old for the job when the only other guy up for it is an old, twice-impeached, out-of-shape adjudged rapist and pathological liar currently facing 91 felony charges in four separate courts, who has been convicted of massive business fraud charges and who recently told Vladimir Putin to go ahead and attack some NATO countries, no big deal. 

     This is the story, folks. Thanks for reminding the world about that, Joe. 

      As someone also privileged to reach the 90th decade of my life, I have written that I would prefer that the presidential candidate for both Democratic and Republican parties be younger than either Biden or Trump. I still do. Maybe it was my own mental fatigue from the last eight years showing, but, in general, I would prefer a somewhat younger president. 

      However, the reality is that neither party has come up with a younger candidate to seriously challenge these two men. That’s something both parties need to address. Given the current choice, and still having most of my wits about me, I prefer the man who comforts the families of mass shooting victims and promotes sensible gun control laws over the guy who flippantly tells them to “get over it.” Disgusting.

     People age differently. Some (the current president) do it gracefully, demonstrating confidence, patience, wisdom and experience, even though their gait and words may be sometimes halting. It can be deceptive.

    Some (the predecessor) just get older, nastier and more selfish. And they don’t walk or talk so great either. What you see is what you get.

     Take your time getting to the podium, Joe. Then give ‘em hell.    

rjgaydos@gmail.com

      

      

All the News … If You Can Find It

Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

By BOB GAYDOS

The big news of the day. RJ Photography

The big news of the day.
RJ Photography

   It’s definitely time to connect the dots. When (1.) your Sunday New York Times, which you still get delivered to home, comes with a touching note from the delivery person thanking his customers for 12 years of “kindness and generosity” and announcing that, as of March 17, home delivery of the local morning paper, The Times Herald-Record, will cease and that the delivery person learned of the contract termination in the much slimmed-down version of the paper itself {which you no longer get delivered}, well, you kind of pause and wonder what those 29 years of your life were all about, (2.) decide to write more about that in a future column and (3) go looking in still-functioning news sources for some positive news, such as (4) Mitch McConnell, the two-faced weasel from Kentucky announcing that he will step down as Republican leader in the Senate in November after 18 years in which his primary motivation was to use his power to thwart any Democratic president or program and pack the Supreme Court with rightwing stooges to do the bidding of wealthy Republican backers, McConnell’s relinquishing of power also being (5) likely to result in a Donald Trump boot-licker ascending to the Republican leadership in the Senate and, one hopes, further hastening the death of the party as a vehicle for responsible governing, something which (6) the aforementioned Great Gray Lady of New York refuses to use its reputation and power to accomplish, preferring instead (7.) to feature stories on polls declaring that American voters are worried that Joe Biden, who has more hands-on experience in how to properly govern than any previous president and has rescued the country from the ethical and economic morass that Donald Trump left behind, is too old for the job, at 81, because he confused a couple of names while running the country, handling delicate foreign policy and dealing with a Republican Party that refuses to do its job, (8.) because it’s being led by a 77-year-old man who repeatedly confuses who the actual president is, confuses Nikki Haley for Nancy Pelosi, warns about a possible World War II, encourages Vladimir Putin to attack our NATO allies, insists he is immune from prosecution for (not innocent of) any crime he committed as president, claims to be a billionaire but can’t post $500,000 bond in New York to appeal a court ruling that his business there was a massive fraud, faces 91 felony counts, incited an insurrection, raped a woman in a New York City department store, hasn’t the foggiest idea or interest in learning how government is supposed to serve the people, says he will get rid of his enemies on Day One of a new Trump term and whose former staffers say is not only unfit for the office of president, but is also deteriorating mentally, which (9.) many Americans seem to have no problem with and, The Times tells us, can’t seem to even remember what the Trump four years were really like, possibly because the newspaper is too busy trying to be all things to all readers (“The best way to clear ear wax” arrived in today’s issue) to (10.) remind us daily, like a newspaper fighting to protect its First Amendment protection from forces out to abolish it, of Trump’s lying and vindictiveness and ignorance or to explain that sitting presidents typically have low favorability ratings in polls early in a reelection year because they are actually doing the job and the poll, assuming first of all that it’s accurate, may reflect the current situation, but does not predict the future, (11.) which, the way things are going, may not include home delivery of The New York Times. 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

The (not so) Sweet Mysteries of Life

Friday, February 16th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Life is full of mysteries. Too many to solve and some (Why did Mario Cuomo not get on the plane to New Hampshire?*) never to be fully resolved. Lately, there are too many to keep up with.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.

 

     At such times, I lean on a tactic made famous by a favorite sports writer of mine from a half century ago or more, Jimmy Cannon. With a deep bow of respect:

  • Maybe it’s just me, but:  When the leading vocal critic of Vladimir Putin dies unexpectedly during a stroll at a prison in the Arctic and that critic, Alexei Navolny, is only 47 years old, is there any doubt that the Russian president, a well-known fan of poisoning his detractors, is behind it? The only mystery is what story the Kremlin will come up with to “explain” the death since there were no  10th-story windows for Navolny to fall out of.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: If I am the governor of the state that just witnessed its crowning glory celebration of another Super Bowl win turn into a bloody mass shooting with one dead and more than 20 injured, including many children, I might want to rethink my state’s gun laws. In fact, I might think about actually having some. No sign yet that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a rock-ribbed, pro-gun Republican if there ever was one, has had such a moment of clarity. Parson, who was at the Kansas City celebration of the Chiefs’ championship, along with his wife and thousands of other happy fans, revealed that his security detail had quickly moved him and his wife to safety. Others had no such protection. In fact, Parson as governor has squelched efforts by Kansas City and St. Louis officials to pass stronger laws because of an increase in shooting deaths in both cities. He also supported a state law that forbad local police from enforcing stricter federal gun laws. The courts overturned that. Missouri has no state licensing requirement for possession of a rifle, shotgun or handgun, nor is any state permit required for purchase of those firearms, as per the NRA’s official site. It’s an open carry state. The shooting was reportedly the result of an argument among teenagers. The mystery: How do you live with yourself and your bloodied celebration just to get campaign donations from a corrupt organization?
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: When a former president, who has bankrupted several businesses, run a fraud university and phony charity, lied to banks and others about the value of his properties, been ordered by the court to pay $364 million in fines because of it, has routinely failed to pay lawyers and contractors and also showed a remarkable indifference to and ignorance of history and world affairs says he would be OK if Putin sent Russian troops against NATO countries who are behind on paying their dues, I don’t understand the so-called thinking of Americans who profess  patriotism, yet support such a man to be president of this country.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: The decision by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin not to launch an independent campaign for president under the No Labels Party — a rare wise decision by the retiring Democrat — should be enough to convince the phony baloney independent group to drop its efforts to field a spoiler in the 2024 presidential election. Manchin even said he didn’t want to play that role. The mystery here is, when the choice in November will be between democracy (Joe Biden) and fascism (Trump or another Republican wannabe Trump), why anyone would want to play that role.

*Mario Cuomo, the so-called “Hamlet on the Hudson,” was widely considered to be a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. He kept a plane on the runway with its motor running on the day to register for the New Hampshire primary, but never got on the plane. A lingering mystery.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Donald and Nikki, How Will It End?

Friday, January 26th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Jack and Rose, together in “Titanic.”

Jack and Rose, together in “Titanic.”          

Throughout history, there has been no shortage of famous duos. Most famously perhaps, there was Romeo and Juliet. But also, remember Antony and Cleopatra, Ozzie and Harriet, Napoleon and Josephine, Abbott and Costello, Batman and Robin, Butch and Sundance, Sonny and Cher, Charles and Diana, Franklin and Eleanor, Heckle and Jeckle, Jekyll and Hyde, Bonnie and Clyde

    That seems an appropriate place to stop to consider this year’s dynamic duo: Donald and Nikki. A match made in MAGA heaven.

    Or maybe not.

     As Donald Trump’s would-be challengers for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination have quickly dropped by the wayside, being too honest (Chris Christie) or too boring (Ron DeSantis), the party found itself in January with only Nikki Haley still running against the man facing 91 felony indictments.

      This is all very un-Republican, what with Haley being a woman and an accomplished, outspoken one at that. Where are her traditional family values? Doesn’t she know her place? Did she really question Der Donald’s mental status just because he repeatedly confused her with Nancy Pelosi and said Joe Biden could ignite World War uh Two? Did she really suggest Trump (and Biden) might be too old to be president?

      Yes, she did and Trump reacted in his customary style, with insults and threats, typed in all caps and misspelled on his social media platform. The ultimate threat: Anyone supporting Haley will be cut off from any MAGA connection. Ostracized financially. Out of the cult.

      Still she persists, to borrow a Democratic Party notion. And, having shown some surprising support among Republicans in New Hampshire, she moves on to the primary in South Carolina, where she was a popular governor, offering a more traditional Republican message than Trump’s scorched-earth, I-am-a-victim-of-Biden-oppression-and-will-get-revenge-on-my-enemies-when-I-am-re-elected message.

    Haley presents a dilemma for those Republicans who can’t stand Trump, but are too afraid to say so because they need the votes of the aggrieved, angry whites who make up MAGA, the volatile base of the GOP, but who don’t outnumber the relatively sane voters populating the rest of the electorate.  Haley speaks to some of those people. When she wants to. Sometimes, she bows to the Trump persecution complex strategy. She’ll pardon him if necessary. But now that she seems to be on the verge of being labeled a disloyal, ungrateful (Trump did make her his UN ambassador) umm, woman, she runs the risk of breaking up the Donald/Nikki duo before it becomes official. Before the tango becomes a waltz. As in running mates. With Donald taking the lead, of course.

    Trump’s most avid supporters say that must never happen. Assuming Trump wins the Republican nomination and assuming he is not in prison and assuming the Supreme Court allows him to run anyway (not a given), the MAGAs want no part of Haley as a vice presidential candidate.

    But, if she is left standing and looking legit, she would bring some voters Trump can’t reach. Non-MAGA women. Some sane Republicans. And, as the daughter of parents who came from India, immigrants.

     I don’t see it happening, Trump being Trump. He likes the easy way, predictably obedient foot soldiers willing to take the fall and not complain or testify against him.

     For her part, Haley has tried to play it both ways, sometimes supporting Trump so as not to anger his base, and sometimes speaking the truth, acknowledging other views. Ignoring slavery as a cause of the Civil War, talking about raising the Social Security age and cutting government controls but, unlike Trump, supporting more U.S. support for Ukraine in its war with Russia and for Israel in its war against terrorist groups.

  Who knows, maybe Trump will be convicted of one or more of the 91 felonies before the Republican nominating convention. Maybe some judge will actually lock him up for defying a gag order.

   Liz Cheney, another accomplished, outspoken woman who was, in effect, expelled from the Republican Party for daring to speak the truth about Trump and the January 6 insurrection, has encouraged Haley to stay in the race. To continue the tango. The male chorus remains mute.

     It remains to be seen whether Donald and Nikki become a true couple or wind up like another famous duo, Jack and Rose on the Titanic. A brief flirtation, but only room for one on the raft.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

     

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Pine Cones, Politics and Power

Friday, January 19th, 2024
The pine cone revolution. RJ Photography

The pine cone revolution in Pine Bush.
RJ Photography

By Bob Gaydos

    Ivan Pavlov, who knew a bit about how to figure things out, had this bit of advice which can apply equally to journalists as well as scientists: “Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.”

     In a week of mysteries (to me, at least), the big mystery around my neck of upstate New York right now is why  there are so many pine cones on the ground. Even allowing for recent rainy weather, it’s been a mystery since the phenomenon started appearing on our property in the fall. Hundreds of cones were strewn about, still are, and social media chatter confirms that lots of neighbors have remarked on the same phenomenon, alternately complaining and wondering what to do with them.

      Responding as Pavlov would have me do, I tried to find answers, which proved to be not that simple. For me, the easiest answer to the pine cone glut appears to be evolution, which is both common sense and remarkable. The theory is that every two or three years (called “mast years”), pine trees produce far more than their normal number of cones, which contain seeds, in order to throw off the seed-gathering routine of their natural predators, such as squirrels, insects and birds, thus assuring the likelihood of enough seeds surviving and turning into future pine trees.

    Survival of the species. Something that is still taught in our schools. I think this is pretty darn clever of the pines, if you don’t mind crunching on the cones while you walk your dog, which I don’t. Mind, that is.

     What I do mind very much is a mystery which I have been struggling to understand for more than eight years. That is how an amoral, self-obsessed con man with no understanding of or regard for the Constitution has captured the minds and votes and loyalty of so many Americans.

    That phenomenon played out again in Iowa this week as Donald Trump swept the Republican caucuses for the party’s presidential nomination without even participating in any debates. Instead, he gave speeches about ordering mass deportations on his first day in office, if re-elected, talked about getting revenge on his enemies, and insisted he was immune from prosecution for the 91 felonies with which he is charged, many of which stem from his continued lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

     The mystery to me in Iowa (though not exclusively there) is that more than 90 percent of Republicans who said they voted for Trump also said they believed Joe Biden was not their legally elected president. This, after all the evidence produced to the contrary over nearly four years.

      Following Pavlov’s suggestion, I think the origin of this magical, self-deluding thinking might be found in the failure of schools and religious institutions in Iowa (and elsewhere) to actually fulfill their purported missions. Certainly, there has been little obvious evolutionary progress in many states in the development of tolerance and respect for others or for the value of actually learning something in school. Anyway, that’s my operating theory.

      The operating theory behind that theory is that it’s all about wealth and power. Control what people are taught and you can control the people and how they think and vote and there are wealthy, influential people behind the scenes doing just that within today’s Republican Party.

     The other mystery of the week took place in Denmark, where Queen Margrethe, the longest reigning monarch in Europe, which is big on monarchies, abdicated her throne to her son, Crown Prince Fredrick.

     My puzzlement is not so much over the 83-year-old queen turning over the keys to the kingdom to her son after 52 years of ruling, but rather why there is still a royal family being treated royally in Denmark. 

     While the queen’s role is purely ceremonial, with no connection whatever to the government, many Danes apparently like the history, fairy tales and traditions associated with their country, home of fairytale master Hans Christian Andersen. A kind of once-upon-a-time power.

     Margrethe was also very popular for her earthiness and rapport with other, non-royal, Danes. Some said they felt she explained to the world what Danes were all about.

      For this contribution to the Danish reputation, the royal family received 88.9 million Danish crowns, or a bit more than $13 million, in tax funds in 2022, a pittance, compared to what British royalty receives, but still, we’re talking millions.

       There’s no word yet on what the new king and his wife, soon to be queen consort, will receive as an allowance from grateful Danes. But this tradition of paying a “ruler” a handsome sum just because might explain why a certain greedy American politician might be doing all he can to take this crown-fighting democratic republic back to the days of rule by royal edict. Devolution from the revolution. The Danes’ fairy tale story would be an American horror story.

     At least the pine cones make sense.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

       

A Quiet Walk Midst an Insurrection

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

(This was written three years ago. The words still stand.)


By Bob Gaydos
   

The insurrection.

The insurrection.

  I took a walk around the pond  Wednesday afternoon, January 6, a little before 4:30. It was cold, but still light out. The sun had just begun to set. As I walked I thought about how lucky — privileged — I was to be able to enjoy such a quiet moment in such a beautiful place in such a shithole country.

    No, friends and family, I haven’t moved. I still live in America, in a particularly scenic part of it, I think. For new readers, that place is upstate New York. It’s a place where a man can be alone to enjoy nature, if the man turns off his electronic devices.

     Two hours of watching live news reports out of Washington, D.C., had made me feel something I had never felt before — a combination of fear, anger, sadness, shame and profound outrage. The calming words and presence of President-elect Joe Biden had finally broken the spell the scenes of chaos had cast on me. It will end, I told myself. It will not succeed. There aren’t enough of them. They are all fury and delusion, taking selfies as they lay waste to the seat of government of the country they profess to love. Ignorance and arrogance, the Trump formula. In the end, it fails, but oh the harm it does. He doesn’t care. They, the rioters, are too dumb to know. That’s the nicest way I can put it. Or they are racists. Or both.

       Those are the facts. And for several hours on a Wednesday afternoon, as our Congress was attempting to perform its constitutional duty of confirming a new president,  these “Make America Great Again” terrorists made it look like one of those “shithole countries“ their leader once referred to with intent to insult. Yep, that’s what it looked like to me. …

                                                              ***.                                     

        … As I resume writing, it is now a week later. Trump has been impeached, again. Incitement to insurrection. Five people died in the attempted coup on The Capitol, including a police officer who was beaten to death by the rioters. White rterrorists carrying a Blue Lives Matter flag killed a Capitol police officer. They spread feces and urine throughout the building. They ransacked offices and went looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence. The whole time, the rioters took selfies of themselves. Eventually, they went home or some D.C. bar, apparently thinking that would be the end of it. Just a friendly little failed insurrection in the nation’s capital, broadcast live around the world.

           If you stop to think about it – and apparently the rioters did not — the ignorance is astounding. It is surpassed only by the hypocrisy of the Republican members of Congress who encouraged and invited the assault and who voted against seating Biden as the duly elected president, even after the insurrection had been quelled. They stuck to the lies of the election being stolen from Trump, even though every one of them – except for perhaps a couple of conspiracy lunatics — knows that that is a lie. It was Trump’s biggest and most dangerous lie. In truth, a treasonous lie.

         Since that now infamous Wednesday, much more has been revealed about the attack on the Capitol. It wasn’t as innocent as it first appeared. There was a plan. There may have been inside help from some Republican members of Congress. Maybe even from the Capitol police, who were woefully unprepared for a massive event that was announced well in advance. There was a delay in getting National Guard troops to the scene, perhaps caused by someone in the Defense Department.

          There will be investigations. May they go on for as long as necessary and bring to justice all those who we’re involved in this assault on America. Every last one of them. Homegrown terrorists. White supremacists. Members of Congress. Conspiracy nuts. Nazis. Klansmen. Racists. Pick a name. The list includes police and ex-military members as well. The attackers were virtually all white, which is why they are still alive. Lock them all up. People who bring swastikas and Confederate flags to attack the seat of the government of the United States of America deserve no mercy.

           Trump now stands accused by Congress and convicted by the majority of the American people and the rest of the world of Inciting an attempted overthrow of a duly elected government. But his accomplices in the Republican Party are also guilty. They have ignored his assault on democratic principles for four years, out of fear or for their own gain or because they agreed with him. They deserve what they’re reaping. The party deserves to die. May it be reborn in some semblance of a responsible political party, perhaps including those Republicans who had the courage to speak out publicly and fight against Trumpism.

            America has been put on notice. There are those among us, appearing publicly as patriotic citizens, but operating out of hate and fear that their dream of a white, Christian nation with everyone else second-class citizens, is about to die. And in their foolhardy effort to avoid that fate, they may have actually hastened it. Republicans who remained silent, evangelicals who remained silent as Trump ravaged democracy, all stand indicted. Those who supported him financially along the way and now seek to distance themselves, all stand indicted. Rupert Murdoch and Fox News stand indicted. 

            In a country Trump would call a “shithole,” those seeking to overthrow the government usually try to get the military on their side if they hope to succeed. When they don’t, they don’t. As I watched with Lester Holt on NBC News as the idiots stormed the Capitol, I kept thinking, well, sooner or later troops with weapons and bullets will arrive. Hopefully, with orders to shoot. I also was dumbfounded that people were posting images of themselves on the Internet as they perpetrated this terrorist attack against this nation and gave no thought to the fact that this would make it easy to track them down and arrest them. Ignorance and arrogance.

              Yes, we have a lot of work to do, but the first thing is not to give into Republican pleas of coming together for the good of the country. They spent four years quietly watching Trump tearing the country apart. They must pay the price. I repeat, there are many more of us than them and what is necessary now is for all who know and love and respect what this nation is about to speak out forcefully in defense of it. Bring to justice those responsible. Convict Trump. Convict him again and again on whatever charges may be filed when he leaves office. Teach young people that actions have accountability. When we get around to it, teach young people about civics and government and history in school again. Clearly a lot of Americans slept through those classes. Evangelical Christians are on their own in this one.

           Joe Biden faces a monumental task when he becomes president on January 20, but he will have full control of the Congress to back him up and, I believe, fervent support of a vast majority of Americans as well. That white mob that assaulted the Capitol was an embarrassment to this nation, but maybe a lesson as well. American exceptionalism was put to the lie.

            No, this is not a “shithole” country, yet. I can still take a quiet walk around the pond every day. But those who would take the right to feel that safe and at home in this country away from anyone whose skin color or nationality or religion or politics they find fault with must know there can be no healing until the wounds are closed, Not until the guilty are prosecuted and those who aided and abetted admit their guilt. Not until journalists are not casually referred to as “enemies of the people.” Not until children are not put in cages. Not until all lives truly matter.                      

            Enough.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

         

           

            

         

          

DeVito, Giuliani and Good Timing

Thursday, December 21st, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Tommy DeVito in action.

Tommy DeVito in action.

  Timing, they say, is everything. Whoever “they” are, I tend to agree with them. And I’m also the first to admit that my timing on this column is terrible, from a journalistic viewpoint.

   But I don’t write to a deadline anymore and, well, a story is still a story, especially in these days of no more local newspapers.

    So, two stories that got my attention a while back involved a couple of guys who you could say are living, breathing examples of a certain type often referred to as stereotypical inhabitants of the North Jersey/New York City axis: Tommy DeVito and Rudy Giuliani.

     DeVito, for those who don’t follow sports, is a quarterback in the National Football League. That statement alone is testament to the fact that, when it comes to timing, DeVito’s has turned out to be almost mystical.

        DeVito is the starting quarterback for the New York Giants because the quarterback who started the season as number one suffered a serious injury and was replaced by the backup quarterback, who also was seriously injured. The team was also not playing well.

          Some might say right place, right time and, yes, that’s true, but DeVito, a 23-year-old graduate of  North Jersey’s famed Don Bosco High, had to put himself in that position.

           His football career at Syracuse and Illinois was unremarkable and he was not drafted as a quarterback by any NFL team. Time to look for a career that doesn’t require good downfield vision and a willingness to be slammed to the ground by 260-pound linemen?

          No, DeVito asked the Giants for a tryout and someone liked what he saw and DeVito got a walk-on spot as the team’s third (only in emergencies!) quarterback.

           Badaboom, badabing, and there’s the North Jersey kid who still lives with his parents playing quarterback as the moribund Giants suddenly win three straight games and lift all of North Jersey and much of New York City out of the football doldrums.

         Turns out the kid’s got guts, can take lots of hits and can throw the ball. And he’s got a confident attitude as demonstrated by an Italian hand gesture he made famous after his first three wins. Kind of an in-your-face don’t mess with us message folks from the area would recognize and the rest of the U.S. was introduced to via TV. 

  I mentioned first three wins because, as you may know, the honeymoon ended last weekend at the hands of the Saints, who tossed Devito’s hand gesture back at him.

     No bigee. He’s still the Giants starting quarterback, his teammates support him, he has an agent out of central casting for “Goodfellas,” a cousin named Danny DeVito (not that one) who throws a mean tailgate party and, yes, good timing.

    A story broke recently that his agent raised DeVito’s appearance fee to $20,000 from $10,000, because of his client’s sudden celebrity, and a pizza restaurant canceled the gig, saying they couldn’t afford it. DeVito didn’t miss a beat. He showed up free of charge, probably ordered a chicken parm and undoubtedly said the Giants will take care of the Eagles in their next game. The coach says he’s still the starting quarterback, for now.

     And Rudy? Last I heard, a jury in Atlanta had ordered him to pay two poll workers $148 million for defaming them as part of the Trump team’s efforts to steal the  2020 election.

       Giuliani also, of course, is charged with Trump and others of various crimes in trying to change the election results in Georgia. In fact, he is guilty of lying about the election across the country as Trump’s mouthpiece.

       I wondered if he had the money to pay the two poll workers, but then it turns out he filed for bankruptcy right after the verdict. Maybe he had the presence of mind to recognize that “billionaire” Trump wouldn’t care a whit about Giuliani’s problems when the ex-president has got more than enough of his own.

        How did “America’s Mayor” get here? Bad timing. After 9/11, when he was the dominant political figure in the country, a mayor leading a bloodied and angry New York City out of the rubble of the terrorist attack with courage and pride, he could have run for president and won.

   He did run, in 2008, but not with any sense of purpose and urgency or platform. He skipped the traditional GOP Iowa and New Hampshire primaries and got buried in Florida. Bad timing. He dropped out. He never acted like it was his place and time, which it might well have been. Then he disappeared until he went to work as Trump’s mouthpiece because, well, the allure of power was always there.

    Time, a fondness for power, many bad decisions and, reportedly, a problem with alcohol and Giuliani’s now, at 79, facing bankruptcy and prison. His time has run out.

     Meanwhile, Tommy DeVito hired a new agent to handle his public appearances. Good timing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com